President Cyril Ramaphosa should have briefed Parliament on the extension of the national state of disaster, the DA said on Thursday.
This, after minister in the Presidency Jackson Mthembu announced that Cabinet approved the extension, by another month, from 15 June to 15 July.
The law allows for a national state of disaster to last for 90 days, he said.
Ramaphosa called a special cabinet meeting on Thursday to discuss a high court judgment which found that certain Level 4 and Level 3 lockdown regulations were invalid.
Speaking during a virtual media briefing on Thursday, Mthembu said: “If there is a need for us to expand again in July, based on scientific evidence, we will do that because the law allows us to have month-to-month extensions.”
In terms of Section 27(5)(c) of the Constitution, a national state of disaster may be extended by the minister of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (Cogta) for one month at a time before it lapses or the existing extension is due to expire.
But the DA has filed an urgent application in the Constitutional Court to challenge the legality and constitutionality of the Disaster Management Act (DMA).
In its papers, DA interim leader John Steenhuisen said the Act violated the constitutional principle of the separation of powers because there was no effective parliamentary oversight.
Steenhuisen also said the DMA allowed for the unconstitutional delegation of Parliament’s powers to the executive and gave Cogta Minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma “exceedingly broad powers”.
The DMA also does not allow for the oversight role that the constitution requires during a state of emergency, he submitted.
In addition, Steenhuisen argued that the National Assembly was not allowed to scrutinise executive action, as was constitutionally required.
Reacting to the announcement, Steenhuisen said Ramaphosa should have consulted Parliament on why there would be an extension and should have given parliament an opportunity to express itself.
“I think it would have given them a lot more credibility rather than just acting in a unilateral way and making all the decisions that have very far-reaching impacts on people’s lives.”
Steenhuisen added that the extension meant that the government could extend the national state of disaster for a year which was reason enough for the party to challenge the Act in the country’s apex court.
However, IFP spokesperson Mkhuleko Hlengwa said the extension was necessary, given the “chaotic manner that some of the regulations” had been decided on.
Hlengwa added that the government needed to go back to the drawing board and be decisive, saying that along the way, cabinet dropped the ball.